The Sierra International Academy focuses on creating a supportive educational environment that takes care of the emotional and curricular needs of its expanding young student population. However, quite a good number of our students, due to their traumatic pasts as child neglects who were abandoned and face varying degrees of physical or mental abuse in the home or out in the street, are displaying negative behavioral patterns which in some cases have overwhelmed the school teachers.
A case in point is that of Sallay, a neglected thirteen year old girl sent from the village to an aunt in the district headquarter town, Kenema, to attend school. Her frequent tardiness to school and unkempt look missed the school administration's positive attention it required. The fact of the matter was that Sallay tarried behind to complete household chores in the morning before getting to school. These tasks included hustling for buckets of water and washing dishes, splitting fire wood and boiling water for her nieces and nephew to bath. Sallay was treated like a domestic servant and was undergoing academic struggles due to flunking child protection laws.
However, the Academy developed a partnership framework in the form of Parent-Teacher Dialogues to help build a sense of trust and an interconnection to create positive changes. Sallay's aunt has changed her attitude after attending a dialogue meeting with the school administration. Sallay is no longer a shy student who cringes behind the school block after coming to school late. Working together with parents and guardians of our students has been an amazing transformation that has worked to build trust in the hearts and minds of Sallay and her other school mates. The Academy truly cares about its students' well-being and futures and seeks to implement best practices.
Please share your ideas on what works in your schools to support social and emotional learning and to build trust in your communities.
Alpha Beretay established Sierra International Academy in 2015 to enroll abandoned and orphaned children as a way to help victims of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. He has partnered with other international organization such as PCI-UK (peacechild.org/meet-the-team/), Wiser Earth International, Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong and AW.I.S.H-Intl USA.